July 19, 2012 by MELISSA CROSSMAN
Don't Crash and Burn After Your Flight: Nutritional Carry-On Items Are The Key
When you’re flying, your carry-on bag is your home away from home and holds all of your essentials, from sleep masks to books that will hold your attention during your trip. For a pleasant flight, fill your bag with items that are relaxing, entertaining and even immunity-boosting. You’ll have everything you need to sit back, relax and enjoy your flight.
The air inside a plane cabin is usually a mixture of pressurised, thin fresh air from outside and recycled cabin air. The recycled air is of poor quality because each time it passes through the air conditioning system the oxygen level is reduced. The humidity inside the cabin is also reduced and lower than in most deserts (about 25 per cent). It becomes even lower on long-haul flights due to recycled air. Many of these and other factors comprimise our immune systems and leave us vulnerable to illness.
While you’re traveling, you need to stay hydrated. New TSA rules mean you can’t bring liquids through security, but you can easily pack tea bags in your carry-on. When choosing your beverage, try green tea, which isn’t loaded with sugar like soda and won’t leave you jittery on your flight. The drink also boosts your immune system with antioxidants, bioflavinoids and may even reduce allergic reactions to irritants in your environment, including dust and pet dander. Both of these properties are useful when you’re sharing a confined cabin with hundreds of people and breathing recirculated air. For an extra boost, ask for lemon in your tea. Vitamin C helps your body use antioxidants more efficiently. By making a conscious choice about what you drink in-flight, you will both stay refreshed and take steps to stay healthy.
Pressurized cabins can have odd effects on your gastro intestinal system. Avoid gas producing foods preflight, such as apples, apricots, beans, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower - even milk if you’re lactose intolerant. And pack high fiber snacks in your carry-on, such as dried fruit, nuts and whole grain granola bars. Dehydration and lack of activity can also often result in post-flight constipation, even among those who never experience it at home.
On long or overnight flights, sleep is essential so you can hit the ground running upon your arrival. However, airplane cabins are often noisy, crowded and can be bright even when the lights are dimmed. Instead of potentially getting stuck next to someone who likes to read all night with the light on, come prepared with a supportive neck pillow, a dark eye mask and a thin blanket. These items will help you relax or sleep comfortably and will prevent the stiff neck and aching back that generally come from sleeping in an upright position.
No matter what time your flight leaves, you’ll need an MP3 player and headphones. If you’re traveling by night, load your player with relaxing music that will help you fall asleep. If you’re flying during the day, choose songs that will distract you from other noises in the cabin. Of course, many MP3 players can do more than just play music. If your device is video-equipped, you can watch movies or music videos. When you bring your MP3 player on the plane, you’re basically bringing along your personal media library.
On all flights, you’ll want something interesting to read. Magazines are a common choice, but novels offer hours of entertainment without taking up much space in your bag. Many airports even have book exchange programs in which you can read a book during your first flight and trade it for a new book at a reduced price on your layover. This means you’ll only have to carry one novel at a time but will actually have access to a myriad of options.
Flying can be a challenge, but carefully choosing your carry-on items will ensure you can stay hydrated, protect your immune system, rest and entertain yourself during your travels. Look out for your wants and needs before boarding the plane and you’ll be sure to enjoy your flight.
Melissa Crossman is a freelance writer who enjoys covering health, wellness, cancer and cancer prevention. She lives in Indianapolis with her two dogs.